Guest Annette Dashofy #giveaway

News Flash: Kathy Lawyerson is Annette’s lucky winner! Congrats, Kathy, and please check your email.

Edith here, blissfully alone in a Cape Cod cottage for a week writing my brains out. And delighted to welcome my good friend (and sometimes retreat-mate) Annette Dashofy back to the blog! She has a new book out that I can’t wait to read. One lucky commenter here will win a signed copy of Death by Equine!

Veterinarian Jessie Cameron agrees to fill in for her mentor, Doc Lewis, at Riverview Racetrack so he can take a long-overdue vacation. When he’s tragically killed by one of his equine patients the night before he’s supposed to leave, Jessie quickly suspects the death is anything but accidental. Her search for the truth is thwarted by everyone from well-meaning friends to the police, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Undaunted, she discovers layers of illegal activities and deceit being perpetrated by the man she thought of as a father figure, creating a growing list of suspects with reason to want Doc dead. Too late, she realizes that her dogged quest for the truth has put her in the crosshairs of a devious killer desperate to silence her. Permanently.

You Should Have Been a Vet

One night many many years ago, I received a frantic phone call from one of my horsey friends. She thought her mare was dying. Her vet was out on another emergency call and couldn’t get there for over an hour. In tears, she asked if I could come over and wait with her. Of course, I went.

As soon as I arrived at my friend’s barn, I pressed a thumb into her mare’s gums to observe how quickly they pinked back up. The capillary refill time was normal. Having no stethoscope with me, I pressed an ear to the mare’s belly and noted the absence of bowel sounds, something that should always be present with a horse. I quickly diagnosed colic. Had I thought about it earlier, I’d have brought the syringe filled with banamine that I kept in my refrigerator. Lacking the drug, I suggested my friend and I take turns walking the mare until the vet got there.

Once he did, he pressed a thumb into the mare’s gums. Then he listened to her gut with his stethoscope. “It’s colic,” he proclaimed and immediately injected her with banamine. Shortly afterwards, the mare passed manure and was fine.

My friend was ecstatic. “You should’ve been a vet!” she said.

Those words, spoken on a stressful night, stuck with me and were a seed that eventually sprouted in the form of Dr. Jessie Cameron, DVM. Jessie first traveled from my mind to the page back in 2005, well before Zoe Chambers and Pete Adams appeared in my subconscious.

I’d certainly done enough minor veterinary procedures on my own animals. Neighbors who knew I kept that syringe of banamine in my fridge (because I once had a horse who colicked on a regular basis) called on me when one of their foals suffered from the ailment. Still, I was not a vet, but I figured I had a good base from my experience to write about one.

Another friend had once gotten me onto the backside of a local racetrack because I had a horse with a mystery lameness. The racetrack vet had lots of experience with lameness and had the diagnostic equipment to determine the cause of my riding horse’s on-again-off-again limp.

An old well-known and well-loved veterinarian was tragically killed by one of his equine patients. It was horrible. The man was nearing retirement and apparently trusted the horse too much. Or maybe he simply wasn’t paying attention. Or both. It was another incident that imprinted on my mind…and is likely part of the reason I decided against being a vet!

Three separate events over a wide number of years, which rattled around in my memory, gelled into a character, a location, and a plot.

Was it that easy? Oh, heck no. I did a lot of research, picked my veterinarian’s brain numerous times, observed and assisted on lots of procedures, and worked as a groom at the racetrack. But the genesis of my latest book definitely goes back to that night in my friend’s barn and her words: You should’ve been a vet.

Fellow writers, have you had snippets from life that stuck with you until they ended up in a story? Even decades later? And readers, have you ever had a moment when someone’s words made you consider a different path? Did you follow it? I’ll send a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter

Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the multi–Agatha Award nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Her latest release, a standalone, is Death by Equine, about a veterinarian at a second-rate thoroughbred racetrack seeking the truth about her mentor’s mysterious death. She and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm in southwestern Pennsylvania with their very spoiled cat, Kensi.

60 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations on your new book. Yes, I’ve read something that gave me pause and decided that it was best to follow something else.

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    1. Thanks, Dru! Whatever that “something” was, I’m so grateful your life path intersected with mine!

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  2. I don’t know if someone’s words consider a different path. But…when I was a kid I played in the town’s youth basketball league. I had zero playing ability. I love the game and I KNEW what to do, I just couldn’t do it myself. But I loved being on the teams I was on and I loved being at the game days.

    So I decided I wanted to be a coach when I grew up. And I told all the coaches that I would be a coach myself. While they didn’t outright laugh in my face, they kind of shined me on, “Yeah sure kid, whatever you say”.

    Everyone except the coach of the best team in the league. His name was Tony Dias. He encouraged me to go for it. And I did. In fact, I started as an assistant coach when I was 14 years old. I got my first team as a head coach when I was 18. Three years later, my team was facing off against a team that Tony was the assistant coach for (he’d pulled back from being a head coach by that point). Before the game, I went into the stands and thanked him for encouraging me when I was just a dumb kid running around telling anyone I would be a coach. My team ended up losing that game by 1 point.

    A few years later, I was having some burnout so I stopped being a head coach for a couple of years. I took an assistant slot on another team and who was the other assistant? Yep, it was Tony! And we won the championship that year. A couple years later, that head coach quit and I found myself back as a head coach myself. And Tony paid me probably one of the best compliments I will ever receive in my life by agreeing to be my assistant coach. And we won the championship that year as well.

    Tony would go on to assist on the high school level during the last part of his life. Cancer took him a few years later. I owed him so much for his early encouragement that I wrote a letter that I sent to the newspaper. It served as a kind of eulogy and I was later told that what I wrote was considered a better eulogy than the one his son gave at the funeral service.

    I may not be coaching anymore but the 25 years I did spend coaching in that same league I once played in likely never would’ve happened without the encouragement of Tony Dias.

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    1. Jay, what a lovely story! We never knew when a connection we make will have a huge impact. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  3. Great stories, Annette. I always have some of those snippets rolling around in my head, waiting for the right time to become a story. You never know when one (or more) will gel into something, right? Congrats on DEATH BY EQUINE (and obviously you don’t have to consider me in the giveaway)!

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    1. Absolutely, Liz. It’s all fodder (I was going to say manure!) waiting for the seed of a story to sprout.

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  4. Congratulations on the release of “Death by Equine”! Sounds like a marvelous book and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it.

    Way back in school, testing showed I was mechanically inclined. Loved drafting class in junior high (might have been a bit for the fact that I was the only girl in class). Due to circumstances of moving and expense, I wasn’t able to follow that career. Jump forward many years to hubby’s extra job where he was licensed to test and design septic systems. I learned auto-cad just by looking over his shoulder and loved it. When it was suggested that I get licensed myself, I jumped on the chance and was the first woman licensed in our state. Although not drafting plans for homes which was my school days thought, the figuring out what worked, using the computer to draw up detailed plans and handing the completed and licensed project to the home owner or contractor was very fulfilling and made me fill like I was finally fulfilling my dream from childhood. Although I’ve always been happy being a homemaker, getting licensed, doing some work and paying taxes enabled me to draw social security years later. I think of it as a totally win-win situation for me.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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  5. Congratulations on Death by Equine! I’m looking forward to a great read as soon as my pre-order drops on Tuesday.

    An underwater incident inspired Death by Blue Water. During a dive on the Thunderbolt, a wreck in 120 feet of water, I was swimming past the wheelhouse when something puffy floated partially above the window and then disappeared. Of course I stuck my head in only to find a plastic bag (which I stuffed in a pocket and took to the surface). Years later that bag became the hand attached to the body Hayden Kent finds on the wreck of the Humbolt.

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    1. It’s amazing how the most minute memory sticks with us writers and can grow into an entire book. Especially when I can’t remember what I had for supper last night!

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  6. Love the idea of a veterinarian, reminds me of All Creatures Great and Small! So many pieces of advice have changed my path…one quote was: “If you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails”, which inspired me to leave a dead-end job for promotion moving across country. Also, good old Ann Landers once wrote, “Are you better off with him or without him?”, which caused a lot of soul searching and eventual divorce–which was Very Sage Advice!

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    1. I heard the wind/sails quote, or a variation of it, years ago and it’s stuck with me and guided me many times, Kathy.

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  7. Big time congrats on the new release, Annette! One of my brothers in law lives in the country. He mentioned driving home one night on a dark county road and almost ran into a gun safe that someone had left in the middle of road. He was fine, and the idea of a gun safe in the middle of a country road made it into my latest Allie Cobb book. Here’s to random story ideas!

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    1. J.C., I am not at all surprised. By the gun safe in the middle of the road OR by it making its way into your book! Sometimes, the unexplainable is simply a gift!

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  8. Delighted to see that you have a new book out! I love all things horses in fiction, so I’m looking forward to reading “Death by Equine.”

    Before I began my ‘life second chapter,’ several suggestions of new paths were shared, mostly based on hobbies I had enjoyed through the years. I acted on several and photography and writing stuck. The journey was great fun.

    Best of luck with the new book!

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  9. Welcome, Annette! The situation you describe, the combining of a few different situations into “maybe there’s a story (or a character) here,” feels so familiar to me. Congratulations on the release of death by Equine.

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  10. Congratulations, Annette! As much as I love your Zoe Chambers books, I’m really looking forward to reading Death by Equine!

    My first book, nonfiction published in 1994, was totally inspired by my own life and aspirations at the time, plus the many talented people that surrounded me then. In fact, that launched a 20-year career of teaching and writing in that industry.

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  11. Congratulations on your new book – Death by Equine. Your story which inspired the book is pretty amazing too. I’m impressed with your veterinarian / healer instincts. I’m a firm believer that some people are true healers. (My daughter – who is a pediatrician- is one.)

    I was a school teacher who became a lawyer. I certainly have stories rattling around in my head, especially after more than thirty years of practicing law. But teaching kids with learning problems also gave me additional insights and sensitivities that show up in my stories too. I’ve never owned a horse and don’t ride but have always been fascinated by horses. So, a thoroughbred farm made its way into my first story and a little snippet about the racetrack is making its way into my third book. It’s funny how our interests make their way into our manuscripts and novels! I can’t wait to check out your new book!

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    1. Thanks, Cynthia! I bet you have a lifetime of great story ideas from your experiences!

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  12. It sounds like an interesting new book! Growing up on a sheep and cattle ranch, I helped out with lots of “doctoring” of sick animals as a kid, and for a while thought that becoming a veterinarian was the path I would follow. However it was my dad that helped me see that I enjoy working with children and I ended up becoming a teacher.

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    1. Good for your dad, Lindsey! I think teaching is one of…if not THE…most important jobs on the planet.

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  13. Good day! Your new book sounds very interesting. I love “horsie” stuff. While I’ve never owned my own horse, I’ve loved them my whole life.

    I’ve been told more than once I should be a nurse. My Mother was an RN, so I grew up around medicine. I did work as an aid for several years and found I just didn’t have an avocation for the field.
    Something I feel is required to practice medicine. I am a caregiver type of person however. While not planning to, I’ve cared for my best friend, then my Mother and now my Father. I find in quite rewarding, exhausting sometimes, but rewarding. It is interesting to look back and see all the places and events in one’s life that contribute to the Now. I would imagine writing is sort of like that.
    Have a great day and a successful book launch.

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    1. Nursing was another profession I considered briefly. Instead, I went into emergency medicine and worked as an EMT for a number of years. Hugs to you for being a caregiver. I’ve done that too with both of my parents.

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      1. That’s funny, my best friend I took care of was a medic too. I love the interconnectedness of life!

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  14. Thanks for visiting today, Annette! I cannot think of anything from life that consciously ended up in a book so far but I do have story ideas or even just the nuggests of them that marinate for years before they are ready to be part of a novel. I love it when a chance to use them appears!

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  15. Congratulations, Annette. I love hearing how several things rambled around in your brain until a book was born. I’ve thought “wouldn’t be interesting to”, done research and decided “no”. Journalist was on that list at one point way, way back. Performer was also on the list.

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  16. As a writer, I have used snippets of my past (or what I’d like from my future) in things that I’ve written, and certainly, as a reader- I will reflect on the words of others, be it in person or those on a page and I decide to apply them to my life-or not. My decisions are certainly not always perfect or the right ones to make, but I think life is simply about being a life-long learner, and I’ll take it from any angle I can get it. Your book sounds wonderful! I have a feeling you’re going to be a new to me author with staying power, not just a one-book read. Congratulations on your latest release!

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  17. Congratulations on your new release. I love horses and this sounds like a great book. I’m sure there have been some suggestions I’ve received from friends that I have followed and didn’t realize it at the time.

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  18. Annette, I hope you have lots of success with the new book. Thanks for sharing how your life experiences became a book. Everyone always believed that I would be a teacher like my mother, so I went to college to become a teacher. It should have been evident from my childhood actions of pasting book card pockets into my own books and checking them out to neighbors that what I really wanted to be was a librarian. Post graduate work allowed me to switch from teaching to library science and the rest of the story is I became a librarian and never felt like I was “working” ever again.

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  19. I’m looking forward to reading Death by Equine. Next to cats & dogs, I love horses. My sister’s entire work career was in a veterinarian’s office across Texas. I always “helped” when I visited except with the snakes or lizards.
    She told me one time to quit just going to work at a dead end job and follow my passion or what I loved. Which has been reading books – can’t make money that way so I got my Bachelors & my MLS. I became a librarian. Without my sisters pushing & encouragement (and babysitting her nephew many evenings), I wouldn’t have had such a rewarding career in libraries. She often introduced me as a “dealer or pusher “ – of books.

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  20. Yes, I have had that moment myself. I have been told by numerous people that I should be a counselor. I already had a business degree and the skill did come in handy but it was also helpful when I worked in other fields like social work.

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  21. Yes I did have someone say something that lead me on a path. I tried their path, but it did not work for me. I finally realized I was living the dream that person had not my own. Thank you for sharing. It is nice to meet you.

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  22. Looking forward to your new book. My path from being a mom to being a homeschooling mom changed as my best friend ventured into it and encouraged me. I homeschooling for 17 years.

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  23. I have it on the Paperwhite somewhere behind From Beer to Eternity and all the other past-due ARCs. sigh. Back to the now 7,995 unread emails…

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